All posts by Chelsea Girl

Evans & Peel

A Speakeasy Bar called Evans & Peel Detective Agency

Since I visited one of New York’s original speakeasy bars located in the basement of 21 Club, I have been a huge fan of these clandestine venues. At the time, I had no idea about 21’s speakeasy history. I had decided to book a table there for me and my friends because of my love for classic movies such as Rear Window and Sweet Smell of Success: Do you remember Grace Kelly arriving at James Stewart’s apartment with dinner from 21?

Whilst at 21, it just so happened that I got talking to the woman who was working in the Ladies at the time and she suggested that I chat up one of the waiters and ask him to take me and my friends on a tour through the kitchen.

So needless to say, when I discovered that Evans & Peel Detective Agency had opened up in Earl’s Court, I was both excited and very curious. I’d already been to Barts and wondered how this new venue could be any different. Little did I know.

When you spot Evans & Peels’s door off the Earl’s Court Road, it seems very unassuming. You may even be forgiven for thinking that a Private Investigator may be lurking behind it.

As you descend down the stairs, you instantly sense a speakeasy vibe: wooden stairs that are leading you to … you’re not quite sure.

The reception area is set up as if a 1920s detective were out to lunch.

And still you have no idea where you’re actually supposed to go because there is no obvious doorway when you arrive. Of course, someone is on hand to show you through to the bar and when you step inside, you do feel like you’re taking a leap back in time.

I didn’t take any photos of the bar because first impressions do count and I’d rather not rob you of this one. It’s quite a treat.

The cocktails, which are my reason for wanting to return quite soon, were classic yet adventurous in their approach. If a cocktail needed orange juice, marmalade was added and if the potato vodka was in a martini then black pepper was added to bring out its flavour.

Between the bf and I, we tried quite a few cocktails on the list and our unanimous agreement is that the Sheer Fashion and the Auntie May’s Marmalade Bronx were our favourites. Both had substance, which you could enjoy with every sip thanks to the attention to detail with the ingredients. They were also gorgeous to drink.

Sheer Fashion
Auntie May’s Marmalade Bronx

The food on the menu are small plates, which I think are ideal accompaniments for cocktails. Between us, we tried the Smoked Salmon Slider …

The Pulled Pork Slider …

We also shared some potato wedges and sausages with relish.

As we were leaving, we learned that behind the bar were also a selection of infused vodkas. On the menu that night was a pink peppercorn infused vodka. Apparently, the guys behind the bar like to experiment with their drinks so each time you visit it might be worth asking about the specials for that night.

Clearly, I felt like running back inside to try a few more drinks but then I consoled myself to not have too much of a good thing in one night. Evans & Peel is only a walk away and I am beyond excited that a bar with true character and an exciting drinks list has landed nearby. I was also surprised to see that having only been open for over a week, the word had already got out and it already had a good buzz about it. I can’t wait to head back!

Evans & Peel Detective Agency’s website.

Donna Ida/Jeans For Genes

Taking Part in Donna Ida’s London to Brighton cycle ride in aid of Jeans For Genes

The big day is Saturday 25th August 2012 and the event is a London to Brighton cycle ride in aid of Jeans For Genes. I will be part of Team Donna Ida and to put it bluntly, I am completely petrified at the thought of doing this!

I had signed up about a month ago, after having returned from holiday and having decided to eat out instead of go to the gym. It was over dessert when I realised that I needed some kind of challenge to keep me fit. Last year, I had sponsored Donna Ida for her charity run and so I thought this year I’d give it a go myself. Except for this time round, there was more to choose from in terms of events: a 5k run, a trekathon and/or a bike ride.

My choice of event was a no-brainer. Why? Because the bf is a cycle geek and I love watching his eyes light up. Also, cycling’s more fun than running and I get to go to the beach afterwards! So I promptly signed up when I returned home that night and in the sober hour of the following morning, I realised the seriousness of what I had committed myself to. I had to train for a 57 plus cycle ride; there was a very large hill at the end of the journey and given the summer we’ve been having, there was also a likelihood that I’d be doing all of this in the rain – probably with a bit of gusty winds thrown in.

But to be frank, I wasn’t going to let reality biting dampen my spirit because the truth of the matter is that I love doing stuff for charity: no matter how big or small. Every day situations always make me smile.

Jeans For Genes focuses on helping children with genetic disorders, which affects 1 in every 25 children born in the UK: 30,000 babies each year. I don’t have any children but if I imagine myself in the situation of the parents of the children which Jeans For Genes help, I can only think of the wonderful work that this charity does.

Whilst writing this post, there is just over 2 months to go before I have to be cycle fit. And in that time, I will be letting you know how I go with my training: from my training schedule to my weekly training updates. For the cycle geeks amongst you, I will be uploading my weekly training routes which you can apparently download onto your GPS. (Yes, the bf is getting very excited about this part).

For sponsorship, there is also a JustGiving page for Donna Ida’s team which you can find here. If you would like to sponsor me, all you need to do is include my name in your sponsor message: King’s Road Rocks!, Chelsea Girl or my real name … Mina! Any of them will do.

So here goes, I’m psyching myself up, let the summer of sport now become personal!

The Hollywood Arms

Where to watch football in Chelsea?

I have a bit of time to catch up on my blog posts and with Ireland playing Croatia on the television, I thought I’d best write a post on where to watch football in Chelsea.

Saying that, after the FA Cup and Champions League, this question may have been answered some time ago. But just in case …

The Hollywood Arms has a great screening room upstairs. You can read my post on watching the Champions League, here.

The Sporting Page is another great local which draws locals. I’ve been meaning to write about this pub for some time and promise to do so very soon.

Other pubs on or around Chelsea Beach include The Kings Arms and The Goat in Boots. All these pubs have enough screens to keep everyone happy but some may be bigger than others.

Further afield, there’s the Anglesea Arms but admittedly I do find the screens quite small there. Saying that, it’s a gorgeous local pub so it depends on what you’re after: atmosphere or a good view of the game.

And of course there’s Bluebird’s courtyard, which you can read more about here.

Erm, where else? The Chelsea Ram apparently shows football and if you fancy a cocktail whilst watching your match, Brinkley’s could be an option.

My list is a bit biased because of the area of Chelsea I live in but if you have other bars or pubs to add to the list, please feel free to leave a comment below. The more options available, the merrier. And who knows, I might actually venture beyond my safety zone!

MINT Polo in the Park

MINT Polo in the Park

So this was my first year at MINT Polo in the Park. If you follow my tweets, you may know that I made it to Finals Day after spending the last few days in the country. Heading back to London, I was intrigued to see how town and country were going to mix at Hurlingham Park. After all, I liked the idea of an urban setting for a polo tournament.

With a Grandstand on one side and the Hospitality tents on the other, the top end of the pitch was dominated by the Veuve Clicquot area.

Where we watched through netting as Moscow beat Sydney in the last leg of the semi-finals.

Elsewhere, Harrods looked after the food area.

I tried the burger which came with chilli chips, which were a bit of a pleasant surprise.

And I have to applaud the staff dishing out the food because they dealt with a sudden onslaught of punters quite swiftly.

With an hour to go until the final match, most people decided that it was time to have a bite to eat – including myself.

As for drinks, I enjoyed Champagne …

And Pimms …

There was a Pimms bus …

And a pub area …

There was also entertainment …

And some fun time, replacing the divots.

Walking with the Wounded were a charity that were very much present during the day and if you’d like to find out more about what they do, please click here.

The final match was between London and Buenos Aires and admittedly, I did wonder if London stood a chance. I know, you’re not supposed to doubt your team but … Buenos Aires!

And here are my favourite moments from the match.

London beat Buenos Aires 8-7. Well done guys!!

It was a great match indeed!

Norman Jay

Jubilee Festival at Battersea Park

What a day! Even though it rained down, it didn’t stop us celebrating the Jubilee and it didn’t stop me from dancing in Battersea Park – thanks in large part to Norman Jay and his Good Times bus. The legendary 80s dance duo Loose Ends also took to the stage as well as DJ Yoda. Both took the crowd to new levels and I loved it when DJ Yoda played Singing in the Rain as the crowd sang and danced along. A classic moment.

The highlight of Norman Jay’s set was when he played Donna Summer’s Bad Girls and to give you an idea of how we kept dancing, here is a clip from DJ Yoda’s set.

Norman Jay is easily the main reason I keep returning to the Notting Hill Carnival. So it was a tragedy when he didn’t make it last year and as result I decided to give it a miss too. I’ve also seen this legendary DJ play in Sydney at a New Year’s party and so when I found out that he was also at Battersea Park, I was in my element and rushed over to listen to him play as soon as I could.

Here are my favourite pics of Good Times at Battersea Park along with a few other photos from the festival. I’m already thinking perhaps Battersea Park should make this festival an annual event.

And elsewhere at the festival …

Finally, here is my favourite photo of The Queen before the flotilla kicked off.

What did you get up today? Did you brave the rain too?

GBK

The Windsor Burger at GBK

It’s been a while since I last visited Gourmet Burger Kitchen. In fact, it was so long ago I hadn’t realised that they had moved on from serving solely ciabatta buns with their burgers and had branched out into various other options including the brioche.

This evening I popped into the branch that I used to always go to: South Kensington’s on Old Brompton Road, to try their new Windsor.

With so many burger restaurants to choose from and each working to outdo each other, it’s a wonder how GBK could step back into the race and compete with all the relatively new kids on the block. But they have and successfully too.

The Windsor is the result of an exclusive arrangement between GBK and The Royal Farms. The tasty burger which is limited edition is made from beef reared on the grounds of Windsor Castle. The tender burger is the result of quality beef being hung and aged to also make it flavoursome. It’s always great to be able to taste the meat, if that makes sense in this mass market age.

The burger is served in a brioche bun along with a salad and relish.

I had my burger with skinny fries …

And a large glass of Pinot Noir. I don’t usually order large glasses of wine but tonight was an exception. It’s been a busy week! (Admittedly I am pedantic enough to prefer two small glasses to one large one. Anyone else think like that?)

The Windsor was launched on Monday and only a small number of the burger patties are delivered to each branch. Old Brompton Road receives about a dozen each week whilst the larger restaurants will receive a few more but not that much more. Also, it is important that the patties are fresh so they don’t hang around beyond their best before date. In other words, quality meat is the essential ingredient in this burger. And what a way to be reminded of and re-introduced to an old friend, called GBK. I loved every bit of it.

Black Velvet Cupcake

Black Velvet Cupcake at The Botanist

So last night, I tried the Black Velvet cupcake at The Botanist. But it wasn’t made of Champagne and Guinness, which you might know is one of my favourite cocktails. This cupcake contained Marmite and cream.

Marmite, you say? I know, I know. I used to love Marmite but haven’t had in the last few years. I think The Botanist’s Jubilee Afternoon Tea idea is genius but I didn’t dare step up to give it a try – until now.

Last night at the Jubilee cocktails tasting, I was curious to taste the Black Velvet cupcake. Admittedly, at first I thought that the cupcake’s ingredients did include Guinness and Champagne but when I found out that it didn’t, I stuck to my guns and tried it anyway.

Hand on heart, I was so pleasantly surprised. It was so delicious. There was someone at our table who didn’t even like let alone love Marmite. But she loved the cupcake, which was actually sweet – not too sweet – and not savoury at all.

That’s the thing about The Botanist, they always tend to surprise me – in a very good way. Did you read my post on their Red Velvet cupcake? Here it is, if you haven’t. It also includes a link to the recipe which was seriously amazing: the best red velvet I’d ever had.

So I’m about to go back on myself and I am going to be trying The Botanist’s Marmite Afternoon Tea over the weekend. If the cupcake is anything to go by, I am very excited! And I’ll be reporting back, of course.

*UPDATE: Unfortunately I didn’t manage to try the Marmite Afternoon Tea this weekend (2nd/3rd June 2012) – but if you do get to have a taste, do let me know what you thought.*

God Save The Quince

Jubilee Cocktails at The Botanist

If you were following my tweets this evening, you might be surprised that I’m in a fit enough state to write a blog post about tonight’s delicious cocktail tasting at The Botanist. But I am and I’m writing this post now so that I can make another attempt to hit the gym first thing tomorrow morning. It hasn’t happened so far this spring/summer but I will try again. ;)

So what did happen tonight? Well, I popped into The Botanist to taste their Jubilee cocktail menu created by chief mixologist Paulo Brammer and each playfully named to suit a royal theme.

God Save The Quince – Strong and Stoic – was first on the list. The ingredients included homemade quince compote, dry figs infused Tanqueray gin and pressed apple juice.

Overall, I think this was my favourite cocktail on the menu. Maybe because it was the first one I tried and yet I still remembered it at the end. It could also be because of the subtle sweetness (not too much) and depth of flavour which I enjoyed. Whatever the reason, the flavour lingered and it wasn’t easy to forget. Delicious.

Next on the list was The Camilla – Bitter and Twisted – which included Aperol, elderflower cordial, peach bitters, Chapel Down rosé brut sparkling wine and lemon twist.

This cocktail was refreshing and the elderflower created a surprising burst of sweetness amongst the bitters and citrus. As I write this post, I already know that there wasn’t a cocktail I didn’t enjoy. When it comes to cocktails in Chelsea, The Botanist really can’t go wrong. So unsurprisingly, this was another one I enjoyed.

The Duke of Cambridge – Reliable and Thoughtful (Awww!) – was made up of Sipsmith London dry gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh cucumber and thyme.

This was another refreshing drink. If you like cucumber martinis, you’ll enjoy this. But this drink won’t be too familiar mainly because of the elderflower twist.

The penultimate cocktail was The Duchess of Cambridge – Sweet and Sparkling. This drink contained Smirnoff vodka, fresh passion fruit, Chambord and Champagne.

If you enjoy sweet cocktails, you’ll definitely enjoy this. Admittedly, I don’t usually go straight for the sweet cocktail on the list but then again, I knocked this one back quicker than any of the others. It was very yummy.

The final cocktail was Prince Harry – Ginger Nutter. This was my second favourite and it was refreshing enough for me to want to start the menu all over again. The ingredients involved lemongrass infused Smirnoff vodka, grapefruit bitters, lychee purée, fresh lime and Fentimans ginger beer.

 

To help the cocktail tasting along, I also enjoyed a few foodie delights.

The Royal cocktails menu is available from now until Wednesday 6th June 2012 and are £8.50. If you’re in the area, I recommend popping in for one or two or five because they are perfectly suited for the Jubilee mood as well as very yummy. *Clink!* :)

The Bluebird

Bluebird’s Summer Launch Party

How gorgeous was last night? I can’t believe I was sipping Champagne on the King’s Road at 9.30pm and it still felt balmy. I felt like I was on holiday!

I was actually at The Bluebird’s summer launch party, which was sponsored by Moët & Chandon. Perfect for me!

I cherish the memories of  when I used to live alone in my Redcliffe Square studio flat, sipping mini Moëts whilst watching Sex and the City’s first run. I would dash out of Earls Court tube station on my way back from drinks somewhere, grab straws from a burger chain and pop into a local off-licence to grab a bottle of mini Moët. It was my favourite me-time!

Last night was more sophisticated of course with no straws in sight. Just plenty of fizz, served with a touch of Moët glamour.

And as well as Champagne …

Food was served …

As everyone mingled and enjoyed the warm evening …

I bumped into the Champagne for Life girls as well as a fellow tweeter who writes for Who Is Jack? And of course, the bf was also there sipping bubbles with me.

I had such a lovely time and it was the perfect summer kick off. I can’t wait for Polo In The Park and Henley Regatta again this year. This summer’s going to be rocking!

And last night, as my head hit the pillow with bubbles swirling inside me, I thought about what else was happening this summer.

This has seriously got to be the best time to be in London with the Diamond Jubilee and Olympics happening – and not to mention Wimbledon and Euro 2012. Bluebird will be screening all these events on their courtyard. But to avoid any queueing, it would probably be best to book. Here is their events calendar if you’re looking for more information.

So here’s to plenty of summer clinking! And if you’re heading to Polo in the Park or Henley, do let me know what you’re planning to wear. I still haven’t sorted out my outfits. It’s always tough picking a dress when you’re thinking of those knee police at Henley. Though, once inside the Stewards, I just love it!

Marmite afternoon tea

Celebrating the Diamond Jubilee in Chelsea

*UPDATE* So, apparently Battersea Park’s Diamond Jubilee Festival is now sold out but there are other ways you could spend your Jubilee weekend. To add to my original list  …

1. Duke of York Square will be holding their very own luxury tea party on Sunday 3rd June. And you’ll be able to watch the Queen’s Flotilla and Thames River Pageant on the big screen. More information.

2. Local pubs are holding their own celebrations. The Hollywood Arms, which has a gorgeous screening room upstairs, will be holding a street party and live screenings throughout the Jubilee weekend.

The Chelsea Ram also has Jubilee plans …

The Jam Tree will be holding a garden party on 3rd June and an all-day barbecue on 4th June, with DJ Marble and Rob Marmot hitting the decks at 11pm – 2am.

3. The Botanist will also be offering special Jubilee cocktails, which I will be writing about in more detail when I try them next week. ;)

4. La Brasserie on Brompton Road will be adding a sense of Britishness to their menu including British fizz, cheese and the culinary classic, Beef Wellington.

5. And if you want to get close to the Battersea Park action but don’t have tickets, there’s always The Prince Albert pub nearby. But if you want to get far away from Chelsea (why??) but stay close to the river, The Oyster Shed in the City looks like the perfect spot.

Don’t forget to add your ideas to the comments below if there’s a Chelsea event I’ve missed out!

*And in case you missed my original Celebrating the Diamond Jubilee in Chelsea post, please read on.*

Just as one Bank Holiday ends, I’m already thinking of the next one. Well who isn’t? I mean, especially given that it’s going to be a four-day weekend (from Saturday 2nd June until Tuesday 5th June).

So I thought I’d jot down a few ideas of what was going on locally, to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

There’ll be events around the country, throughout the long weekend, and on Sunday 3rd June, there will be the Thames River Pageant. To celebrate this extravagant procession, Battersea Park will be holding a Diamond Jubilee Festival, which I have already booked tickets for! There will be plenty going on: from the Diamond Geezer pop-up tent (ha!) to other food and drinks stalls, as well as vintage fashion. And all along, you’ll be able to see the 1,000 ships sail past along the Chelsea Embankment. For more info, click on the event’s website.

Jubilee tea parties will undoubtedly be springing up around the country but if you fancy something a little more indulgent on Sloane Square, The Botanist have put together a special afternoon tea menu with Marmite.

There will be two main menus involved and they will be available from Monday 28th May to Sunday 10th June.

The Botanist Marmite afternoon tea (£18 per person) 

- Marmite and assorted finger sandwiches 

- Homemade cheddar, chive and Marmite scones

- Marmite and cheese straws

- A selection of afternoon sweets and cakes including chocolate cake with Marmite caramel buttercream, Black Velvet cupcakes and Marmite and peanut butter brownies

- Pot of Jing Tea 

Gentleman’s Marmite afternoon tea (£18 per person – £25 with a Marmite Mary)

- Marmite and assorted finger sandwiches

- Homemade Cheddar, chive and Marmite scones

- Marmite and cheese straws

- Marmite rarebit

There will however be a Jubilee Party at The Bluebird on the Sunday and if you want to catch the  Diamond Jubilee Concert on Monday, you can also watch it on The Bluebird’s big screen. But you will have to book because on a normal weekend, The Bluebird Courtyard gets busy as it is. Here’s their website for more details.

 

And if you want to dress like royalty whilst you party, By Brilliant have a new Tiara collection. Prices range from £95 to £125 and the lab diamonds sparkle with brilliance.

 

So what are your plans for the Jubilee? Are you organising something yourself or heading somewhere special?

*As and when more events come up, I’ll be updating this post – so do be sure to check back.*

 

http://www.kristencovo.com/

Chelsea Flower Show 2012

I wasn’t organised enough to arrange myself tickets for The Chelsea Flower Show this year but a lovely friend of mine went along this morning and offered to take a few photos for my blog.

It also happens that Kristen is an amazing photographer, so I jumped at her kind offer to supply me with a few pics to share with you.

Here are her snapshots of this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them!

If you love Kristen’s photography as much as I do, you might like to check out her website too.

Chelsea in Bloom

Chelsea in Bloom

Yesterday was the start of Chelsea in Bloom and how lucky are we with the weather! This afternoon, I took a walk around Sloane Square and photographed the flower installations that have brought Chelsea to life, in time for the Chelsea Flower Show.

Chelsea in Bloom is a competition between local retailers who are vying for the floral crown and I’m so glad I don’t have to pick a winner because there are some stunning displays on show.

Takes these dogs by Ted Baker.

Or this floral dress at The White Company.

Savills.

Hackett.

Smythson.

Gnomes nearby. I love gnomes!

Paule Ka.

Jo Malone.

Mary Quant.

DoDo.

Liz Earle.

And in the middle of Sloane Square, there’s a maze which I went into! I love mazes too.

The Botanist also have a pop-up bar in the middle of Sloane Square where you can sit at a table and sip wine, champagne or the bar’s signature cocktail London Spritz (£8), which is made up of aperol, rhubarb liqueur, fresh grapefruit and Chapel Down pinot noir. If you’re feeling slightly peckish you can also tuck into a garden salad of nasturtium, dandelion, summer pea and radish salad, nettle rolled goats’ cheese, borage flowers and croutons served with or without smoked duck (£10 or £12 respectively).

The Botanist’s pop-up bar will be in Sloane Square until Sunday 27th May 2012 and is open from midday – 7pm.

Thank goodness summer’s finally arrived and please let it hang around for some time!